SFFA v. Harvard: How Affirmative Action Myths Mask White Bonus

30 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2019 Last revised: 2 May 2019

Date Written: 2019


In the ongoing litigation of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College, Harvard faces allegations that its once-heralded admissions process discriminates against Asian Americans. Public discourse has revealed a dominant narrative: affirmative action is viewed as the presumptive cause of Harvard’s alleged “Asian penalty.” Yet this narrative misrepresents the plaintiff’s own theory of discrimination. Rather than implicating affirmative action, the underlying allegations portray the phenomenon of “negative action” — that is, an admissions regime in which White applicants take the seats of their more qualified Asian-American counterparts. Nonetheless, we are witnessing a broad failure to see this case for what it is. This misperception invites an unnecessary and misplaced referendum on race-conscious admissions at Harvard and beyond.

Suggested Citation

Feingold, Jonathan, SFFA v. Harvard: How Affirmative Action Myths Mask White Bonus (2019). 107 California Law Review 707, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3318502

Jonathan Feingold (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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